There’s one thing almost universally true about us dentists: we live in fear. No, we’re not paralyzed by it, we don’t sit in our offices wringing our hands, and we don’t walk around with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look. We’re not gut-less, we’re not incapable, and we certainly aren’t lacking courage.
We’re happy when we’re busy, productive, and profitable, and we’re nervous when we’re not. Why is that? Do you think that suddenly no one wants or needs dental care? Do you think that your patients are going to wake up and leave you for some other dentist because they’re giving away “free” tooth whitening? Are you wondering what our government will throw at us next? Regardless, you’re not alone.
Not only are we a profession that lives in fear – fear of failure, fear of loss of income, fear of the government, fear of litigation, fear of criticism, and SO many more – we live in a nation that lives in fear.
When you can scare somebody, you have him or her right where you want him or her; and, they’ll mostly do anything you tell them to do to get them out of their predicament. It’s a tactic used by politicians, law enforcement, marketers, the media … pretty much anybody who wants you to do something or wants something out of you.
I’m sorry to report that some dentists use that same tactic to get their patients to accept treatment. Sad, but true, and worse, they were taught by people in our industry to do that, all for the sake of money – more money. And as if money would buy … Happiness? Peace of mind? Security?
The source of our fear-based culture can be traced back even to the founding of our country. Of course, that’s all historical evidence, and won’t really help us now, except to realize it’s not a new phenomenon. To quit living out of fear is the journey that will help you and our profession.
Steve Jobs, the famous founder of Apple Computers, had this to say: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown our your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
How can we forge ahead fearlessly, not knowing what is around the corner?
For one, you do realize on a much deeper level there is no such thing as security. Life just happens, and it will always throw you a curve. However, you can prepare yourself for these changes (change being the only constant) by paying attention to what’s going on around you, whether it’s your practice or anything else in your life. Next, be grounded in who you are as a professional and as a person. Steve Jobs’ advice is sage advice: “have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition”. Too often we let other people put ideas in our head, as if we can’t think for ourselves. Wrong! When you allow other people put ideas in your head, fear enters.